Editor's Note

As this year's Ascending Node editor, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to give a brief overview of my goals for this year. I am a senior in mechanical engineering scheduled to graduate (I really mean it this time!) this coming May. Over the many years that I have been involved in SEDS, I have seen the club grow from a small, technically-oriented group (described by one member as "computer nerds") to a large and academically diverse organization.

While we all share a common interest in space exploration, we have many members who do not have a heavy background in science and engineering. With so many technical projects sponsored by SEDS, it is sometimes easy to forget that this is not the "exception" in society, but closer to being the "rule". That brings me to the first of my three goals for the Node this year: to educate people about space and to inspire them to become more informed about space-related issues regardless of their backgrounds. To that end, I encourage members who may not have the technical background (or the time to acquire it) necessary for SEDS' technical projects to contribute to the Node. In the process you will learn a great deal about all aspects of space exploration, both technical and non-technical. I also invite members who do have a strong technical background to share their interests and expertise by writing an article for the Node. With distribution points all over campus, this is our opportunity to educate and excite the university community about space!

Although the Node is largely an informative newsletter about space-related events, it is also a means by which we can keep members informed about SEDS events and projects. My second goal is to expand the role of the Node in publicizing SEDS projects and events and in celebrating our honors and achievements. As our club continues to grow, the Node is a great way to avoid isolating ourselves as we become engrossed in our pet projects. I plan to dedicate at least two pages of each issue specifically to SEDS news. If you are involved in a SEDS project or in planning a SEDS event, I encourage you to submit your news to the Node!

Finally, while space exploration may seem on the surface to be a straghtforward and rather benign topic, many aspects of it are coming under closer scrutiny (such as NASA's budget) and are increasingly subject to debate (e.g., the possibility of life on Mars). If my past experience with other SEDS members is any indication, there are lots of SEDS members with opinions on space-related topics! It is my hope that the editorial section of the Node will continue to be a thoughtful and educational outlet for SEDS members to express their views. My third goal this year is to feature two opposing articles representing both sides of a space-related topic in addition to the regular editorials in each of the upcoming issues. As in the past, we will also be accepting letters to the editor- perhaps this year we will actually get some!

If you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, or would like to get involved with the Ascending Node, please e-mail me at ktynan@seds.org and I will be happy to talk with you.

Kirsten Tynan